When discussing destinations for a New Years trip with two of my world-traveling lady fraans, dozens of ideas were thrown out and flight paths examined. Ultimately, we decided on the Caribbean to escape the cold places we call home (Boston, Dublin) and to get out of the hustle and bustle of cities and into the sunshine and good times of a beach holiday.
We settled on Barbados. None of us had ever been, the pictures looked absolutely gorgeous, and if I had the chance to find Badgirl RiRi and make her my New Year’s kiss it would pretty much guarantee that 2019 would be the best year ever.
Spoiler Alert: We did not find Rihanna, but not for lack of trying. What we did find, though, was friendly locals, gorgeous turquoise water, tans we desperately needed and the little-known fact that you can actually vacation in the Caribbean without drinking rum—just ask our vodka-soda soaked livers!
About Our Stay:
We stayed at the Blue Orchid Hotel in Worthing, Christchurch. It was affordable despite being over a holiday weekend, right on the beach, and had plenty of restaurant and bar options in the vicinity. Our room was a suite with a kitchenette that came in very handy for cooking meals and preparing drinks, and a balcony where we sat daily with coffee and breakfast or mid-day snacks overlooking the ocean. Barbados is a pretty expensive island, so having a bit of DIY sustenance can really help to cut costs. Though we did have to move in a cot to accommodate all three of us, there was plenty of room to move around without being in each others’ way. There’s a tiny little gym that we actually used one day (I’m as surprised as you are). Everyone on staff was very friendly and helpful. It was a nice little place and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, especially if you’re going to want to prepare food and drinks in the hotel.
Worthing is not a place for a romantic secluded getaway. The beach we were on was beautiful, but the streets are urban, there is quite a bit of auto traffic and quite frankly the neighborhood was less than picturesque.
But we weren’t there for romance, we were there for relaxing on the beach and going out, having fun. Some bars we liked:
Mojos– the music was excellent and the daytime bartenders were very friendly. This was our stop on the way to the grocery store every day, and sometimes on the way home.
King’s Tavern (KTs)- This bar was more local. (read: we were the only white faces.) We had a blast. The bartender Kareem was awesome and made us very impressive looking (but not tasting, unfortunately) drinks called “Barbados Surprise.” What started as a quick stop for a beer on the way home turned into two hours of making friends, trying a plethora of drinks and having an all around good time.
Carib Beach Bar– we stopped in for our first meal on the island after arriving. We had some delicious fish tacos with a couple sides. Their cocktail menu provided some interesting twists on old favorites and we both really enjoyed our drinks. Apparently they have live music every Sunday evening, and we kept talking about going back for it. But you know how these things go. Onward and upward.
Sharkey’s– in St. Lawrence Gap. Okay, so at first glance you might be thinking this place is for young bros to get drunk and be douchey and pick up girls. But this place has SO MUCH potential! It’s huge, first of all, with an open air concept like a giant tiki bar. There is ample space for dancing (which for some reason only my friends and I seemed to use) and plenty of seating. The bar has shots on special every night, which led to a more exciting evening than we’d planned when our new friend “Mr. Lemon Drop” kept sending them our way. The DJ here plays the JAMS and we had a ton of fun letting loose in this place. Even if no one else was.
Some things we did besides party:
Swam with sea turtles!
Pardon the excitement, I’d never seen one in person before and I’ve been wanting to
ever since my ex told me my lip looked like the beak of a sea turtle forever. We did a snorkel boat tour through El Tigre Catamaran Cruises.
Fun Crew, Fun times. We made some new friends on the boat with fellow travellers and our crew.
Lunch was excellent! Much better than expected from a trip like this.
Free drinks! And not just rum, thank the Almighty.
I saw my first sea turtle! And then my second, and my third…
With hotel pickup and drop-off included it was an easy, stress-free day for us.
The price was right. Five hours on the boat, pickup, drop-off, lunch, drinks and snorkel equipment for $95 USD. I’d call that a win!
The not so good:
Overcrowding. Typical of vacation destinations, all the excursions tend to hit the same attractions or areas. So, to some extent, running into other groups is inevitable. My only issue was that there were so many groups at the same time it was difficult to enjoy the snorkeling. At any given moment you were swimming into a stranger or getting kicked by a passerby. It is a wonder to me that various cruise companies don’t work together to determine a schedule to visit the sites at different times.
Overall we had an absolute blast on our El Tigre tour. We basked in the sun, we swam with the fish and we danced on the deck. And we almost got the hookup for a party at Rihanna’s house until Kevin dropped the ball.
Hit the Friday night Fish Fry in Oistins
This is a real experience, a must-do if you’re in Barbados on a Friday night. Vendors serve up a variety of fish, served grilled or friend with sides like macaroni pie and breadfruit. The setting is casual– like plastic chair and picnic bench casual- and you can see live bands and dancers performing on stage. Show up early or be prepared to wait. We showed up around 8:30-9pm and lines stretched around the corner of buildings. It took at least an hour from the time we sat to the time our food came, and we had to substitute items as they’d run out of much of their menu. Find a seat, grab a couple cold ones, and enjoy the local/tourist mix while you wait for your delicious bajan fare.
Go for a Run!
Okay, admittedly I’m the only one who did this. And I’m training for a marathon and had to. Between the New Years morning hangover and the scorching heat it was pretty brutal. But there is an awesome boardwalk along the beach in Worthing with views that made it almost worth it.
Take the Bus
This is another local experience that is certainly worth a go! We took cabs most of the time because we are frequently short on time (It’s not ALL my fault, but yeah, totally mostly my fault). The cabs in Barbados can be expensive and taking private rides adds up quickly. On our last evening, though, we decided to take the bus to the North-Western corner of the island, to Speightstown, which required a 45-60 minute bus ride. The ride was cheap– only $1 USD, and it was a mix of locals and visitors.
Our girls trip to Barbados was the perfect finish to a busy holiday season and a year full of transitions. And by the end we all felt well-rested, full-hearted, and ready to take on 2019.